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'It is with
deep sadness...': Broken Top remains confirmed as missing hiker
'It is with deep sadness...': Broken Top
remains confirmed as missing hiker
Danny Curran's November disappearance prompted
massive search - and outpouring of support
By Barney Lerten, bend.com
Originally Posted July 31, 2002
at 5:16 pm
Last Update July 31, 2002 at 10:27 pm
July 31 - One
of two months-old missing-hiker mysteries in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area
has been solved, in sad but not surprising fashion: Remains found near the base
of Broken Top Mountain’s west slope, west of Bend, were confirmed Wednesday to
be those of a 24-year-old Pennsylvania man who vanished on a solo climb last
The state Medical Examiner’s Office and Deschutes County sheriff’s
investigators used clothing and dental records to identify the remains found
last Friday afternoon by hikers as those of Danny Curran III of Springfield, Pa.
He had been reported missing Nov. 9 by his brother after he went for a climb up
the 9,175-foot peak, triggering the second massive – and fruitless – search
in the area in several months.
“It has been determined by the state Medical Examiner’s Office that the
cause of death was hypothermia due to exposure to cold,” sheriff’s Detective
Donald Pray said in a news release.
“I just can’t imagine – the poor guy,” Curran’s mother, Mary Ann, told
bend.com after hearing the news.
Hikers called the agency by cell phone around 2 p.m. Friday to report that they
had possibly located human remains. Sheriff’s detectives and members of the
Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit responded, located and removed the remains,
which were taken to the medical examiner in Portland on Monday for examination.
Curran had been camping at Green Lakes with his younger brother, Cavan, 20, when
he left their camp on the afternoon of Nov. 7, saying that he intended to hike
to the summit of Broken Top on an unspecified route. When he didn’t return
that night, Cavan spent the next day searching, then hiked out to notify
Danny Curran did not have a pack or climbing gear with him, and his dark down
jacket made the search even more difficult. He reportedly had some climbing
experience and was in good physical condition, but was not prepared for an
overnight stay, wearing jeans, hiking boots, a knit cap and gloves, and carrying
a Swiss Army knife.
Formal word took days, but initial
news made outcome clear
Mary Ann Curran told bend.com that they had gotten the call from
Deschutes County authorities last Friday night, and were asked to
fax their son’s dental records to Bend.
|I just can't imagine -
the poor guy.'
|Mary Ann Curran
|mother of hiker who
apparently died of exposure
“But it was pretty much determined from the onset that it was Danny’s
clothing,” she said. “I had sent out to Lisa (Jeffcott of Deschutes County
SAR) a picture that Cavan had taken of Danny just five minutes before he left”
on the fateful hike.
“The dental records were pretty distinctive,” the grieving mother said.
“He was 24 and didn’t have any cavities. He only had three wisdom teeth out
of four.” Plus, “he had special hiking boots on. We got info from REI Hiking
It’s the call you are waiting for that you don’t really want to get,” Dan
Curran, the young man’s father, told Delaware County Daily Times reporter
Timothy Logue. “There was no wallet or identification, so they couldn’t say
it with absolute certainty, but they were his clothes and his boots.”
Searchers believe the man most likely had reached the summit of Broken Top and
ran into trouble on the way back to camp.
“The cause of death was listed as exposure,” Dan Curran said. “There was
concern that he might have suffered a bad fall, but there was no sign of broken
bones, no fractured skull or anything like that. There’s a possibility that he
sprained an ankle and was unable to walk out.”
The father said autopsy results indicate Curran likely died on his first night
away from camp. “They said he may have settled in an area where there was two
feet of snow and died in his sleep,” he told the Pennsylvania paper.
“Foremost in all of our minds is that he didn’t suffer.”
Hiker’s disappearance prompted hundreds of bend.com postings by friends, family.
A National Guard helicopter and Air Force Reserve plane aided in the search for
Curran, which covered more than 140 square miles
and prompted a huge outpouring of support for family members in
postings at bend.com. A family friend also created a Web site (http://www.dannycurran.net/)
to share photos and memories of their friend and loved one.
|It's the call you are
waiting for that you don't really want to get.
|Hiker's father, after
word son's remains were found
As the search wound down before Thanksgiving, with colder temperatures and snow
moving in, Curran’s mother, Mary Ann Curran, posted a note to that site: “It
is a very hard decision to leave Bend, but that time has come. … We will bring
Danny home with us in our hearts and minds.”
Last June, Corwin Osborn, 45, of Bellevue, Wash., disappeared while hiking from
the Devils Lake Trailhead and was last seen near the summit of South Sister. The
athletic and experienced climber intended to reach the summit of one, perhaps
all the Sisters, on an undetermined route. His father, who dropped him off at
the Dvils Lake Trailhead, reported him missing when he’d failed to show up at
Lava Camp Lake Trailhead as planned.
In June, on the first anniversary of Osborn’s disappearance, Deschutes County
Sheriff’s Search and Rescue volunteers returned to the Green Lakes trailhead,
to begin posting a pair of fliers about the missing men at the entry to every
trail into the high Cascades. They knew the summer would bring both snow melt
and more hikers back to the area, possibly leading to such a discovery and the
much-sought closure for not only family members, but searchers as well.
The Curran family sent an e-mail to their many family and friends late
Wednesday: “It is with deep sadness that we must tell you that on Friday, July
26th, Danny’s body was found on Broken Top Mountain by hikers,” it began.
“In the next several days, we will be completing arrangements for a memorial
mass. We will post all information to the http://www.dannycurran.net/
“Please keep us in
your prayers,” they wrote. “Thank you again for your warm and
loving support over these past months.”
|I can't say enough, to
all of the people of Bend ... how wonderful they are.
|Mary Ann Curran
|Danny Curran's mother
’I can’t say enough to all of the people of Bend … how wonderful they are.’
Mary Ann Curran said they had yet to complete arrangements to fly to Central
Oregon and retrieve the young man’s remains.
She said her husband had said, “You never quite get over it. You get a little
less numb, and then this gets it all open again.”
As she had last November, when the mournful family members headed back East for
a sad Thanksgiving, Mary Ann Curran wished to express her thanks to Central
Oregonians for their support and kind words, prayers and condolences.
“I can’t say enough, to all of the people of Bend,” she said. “I can’t
say how wonderful they are. They have been so supportive in the past months.
I’ve stayed in touch with the people back there.”
And she also watched as friends and family of another missing person,
snowboarder Kate Svitek, came together online at bend.com to share their wishes.
“I watched the thing on Katie,” she said, pointing out how the ability to
post online messages is “a source of great comfort” for both sender and
recipient. “I think people find it easier than picking up a telephone,”
which can be far more intrusive. “It helps people to let us know and let those
families know, we’re here and we’re thinking of you.”
Dan Curran told the Pennsylvania paper that the close-knit family has been doing
about as well as can be expected in the months since Danny’s disappearance.
“Obviously, we all miss him terribly,” he said. “Like other tragedies, the
further you get away from it – even though it hurts – the pain gets a little
easier. But then you get the call, and everything resurfaces.”
“I know that we’re happy to finally bring him home.”
WARNING - *DISCLAIMER!*
Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can, only in part, be mitigated
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